hi again dave and thanks for the followup. its definitely not a driver issue with the xps420. its well documented in the forums and even with dell technical support that the earlier xps420's from early 08 that didnt have raid installed from the factory do not have esata capability. it was a flaw on dells part because they were supposed to install the vista image using raid (thus enabling ahci) and then not use raid once setting everything up. but when they installed the vista image with raid off, it didnt allow the esata port to work at all. the only way to get it to work is if i turn raid on, and then i can actually see the drive connected to my esata port in the bios, but you cannot then boot into windows as you get a bsod. just to double check your driver theory, i searched my service tag for sata drivers and there is only one driver available and i already have it installed. there is a long thread about this here in case you want to see it. http://en.community.dell.com/forums/t/18786740.aspx?PageIndex=1 in this thread a few people were able to find a work around, but the work around was only good if you still were using the dell factory image. i wasnt as i had already done a clean install of vista 64. another work around was to reinstall vista again, but choose raid first. i didnt want to do this as i had too many programs already installed and didnt want to spend all those hours reinstalling them . plus the esata plate way was so much easier and just as effective. by the way, i did receive my esata plate and ive already connected everything and my esata external hard drive is working flawlessly at super fast esata speed and my computer views my external drive as another internal drive. thanks again dave, take care.